Saturday, October 18, 2014

William Vanderbloemen has a captain obvious op-ed on "3 reasons why Mark Driscoll's resignation changes everything", which won't change things

William Vanderbloemen has an op-ed piece in the New York Observer that has a few Captain Obvious axioms that seem to traffic in some ignorance of the history of Mars Hill Church and some of the public discussion about it.

Let's take the first Captain Obvious bromide.

1. Social media is a powerful, dual-edged sword.

... Daily blogs from across the country criticized the church, the board, and/or Pastor Driscoll. Some of the most popular posts were from people who have never even attended Mars Hill.

Yes, social media is a powerful dual-edged sword.  The problem in the case of Mars Hill is not necessarily that "critics" made a point of using social media to criticize Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll.  It was never that simple.  Mars Hill Church was filled with leaders and members who managed to tweet and blog away any shred of privacy they could have had that allowed Wenatchee The Hatchet, a ten year veteran of the culture of Mars Hill, to assemble the data to identify that Andrew Lamb and the Noriega family were close to or at the center of the 2012 disciplinary controversy based not just on social media activity but on Mark Driscoll's own sermons.

Wenatchee The Hatchet seems to have gotten a reputation as being a Mark Driscoll critic but this would be to misunderstand what Wenatchee The Hatchet does.  Preserving for the public record a history of Mars Hill according to leaders while the history has been adjusted and updated is not always the same as being a "critic".  If quoting Driscoll accurately, in context, and in a way that reveals that Mark Driscoll has changed or betrayed the basic principles he articulated about pastoral ministry from the pulpit ten years ago constitutes being a "critic" then Mark Driscoll has lowered the bar by betraying everything he once stood for.  That's not Wenatchee The Hatchet's problem as such. 

Now it is true that the vast majority who have seen fit to opine on Mars Hill are frequently ill-informed and have not even participated in life at Mars Hill.  That's not in doubt. 

Vanderbloemen correctly points out that Mars Hill dove headfirst into using and embracing social media and internet communication.  Wenatchee The Hatchet has already written about how what Mars Hill culture did was essentially idolize social media and that what an idol promises is given in exchange for some kid of sacrifice.

The sacrifice offered to social media to expand and promote a brand is what ... ?  We get to point 2.

2. Privacy is dead and words live forever.

... In the digital age, there is little or no privacy, and words live on forever and everywhere. The fishbowl is no longer the local community. It is the entire world.

No one says you have to opt in to this.  Those that don't opt in and haven't opted in except in a limited way might be seen as reclusive.  But Wenatchee The Hatchet suggests that Bill Watterson is not  a recluse. Bill Watterson has simply retained a pre-internet conception of the individual having a private life.

The problem here is that Mars Hill culture so saturated itself with social media and broadcast media that they didn't realize in the midst of all this that there aren't exactly take-backs in this kingdom. And yet paradoxically this new kingdom of internet literacy seems full of people who don't know how to read and can't remember things that were said or how they were said.  Take this, for instance.

Much of the criticism Pastor Driscoll has faced centers around comments he made nearly 15 years ago, which he apologized for in a book and before his church. Yet in the digital age, words live forever, and even if they have been retracted by the author, they can be resurrected to create new friction for pastors and leaders.

No, the plagiarism controversy was not about the writings of William Wallace II.  The Result Source Inc. controversy was not about the writings of Mark Driscoll in 2000, either.  The criticism about the lack of transparency and honesty surrounding the nature of Mars Hill Global and how monies donated to it and through it were actually spent is also irrelevant to the rants of William Wallace II.  Anyone who attempts to frame the criticisms of Mark Driscoll in the last two and a half years as "much of the criticism ... centers around comments he made nearly 15 years ago" is a complete idiot at best or a duplicitous tool at worst. 

What is more, as Wenatchee The Hatchet has discussed at some length Mark Driscoll presented his writings as William Wallace II as a rant against emergent and liberals. 

Mark Driscoll,  Zondervan
copyright (c) 2006 by Mark Driscoll
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-27016-4
350-1,000 people

At this time, our church also started an unmoderated discussion board on our website, called Midrash, and it was being inundated with postings by emerging-church type feminists and liberals. I went onto the site and posted as William Wallace II, after the great Scottish man portrayed in the movie Braveheart, and attacked those who were posting. [emphasis added] It got insane, and thousands of posts were being made each day until it was discovered that it was me raging like a madman under the guise of a movie character. One guy got so mad that he actually showed up at my house to fight me one night around 3 a.m.
Driscoll's own words stated that he saw Midrash inundated with postings by emerging-church type feminists and liberals and that Driscoll went on and posted as William Wallace II, attacking those who were posting.  Okay, and one guy got so mad he showed up at the house wanting to fight at  But let's go back and look at what the opening fusillade of "Pussified Nation" started with.
This not only wasn't the case, the rants of WW2 were most vitriolic against fellow evangelicals such as James Dobson or the Promise Keepers set.  Let's revisit the opening salvo of Pussified Nation.

James Dobson instantly springs to everyone's mind as an emergent church feminist type, right?
Ditto for Promise Keepers?

Wenatchee The Hatchet has already written extensively on the historical, social and economic background of Mark Driscoll taking up the pen name William Wallace II and publishing "Pussified Nation".  Here.  And here. And here. And here.  And here.  The most important thing to state for those who actually know what Mark Driscoll did and did not write in his 2006 book is that he expressed regret about some unspecified things he did and said in anger but that he did not actually explicitly repudiate the substance of what he said as William Wallace II.  In fact the substance of what he said as William Wallace II in "Pussified Nation" was pretty much the same message he had for Justin Brierley in 2012.  Driscoll expressing regret about doing something and saying something in a stupid and ill-advised way simply raises anew the question of what he was sorry about.  In the 2006 book he stated he developed the pen name.  If he couldn't even keep straight who he was attacking on Midrash and why six years after the fact what reason is there to trust that Driscoll saying he's apologized for stuff from fourteen years ago means much now?  After all, in the last year it seems Driscoll can't even seem to recall that there were kids in the earliest years of Mars Hill these days and has managed to inadvertently testify against his own accuracy.

Vanderbloemen can assert if he likes that Mark Driscoll said he apologized for William Wallace II rantings in the 2006 book.  The apology came later, more like 2014. 

Privacy isn't dead in the same way all across the board and if you choose to use social media you need to come to grips with the reality of what you're doing, committing things to a broadcast medium for the public record that will stick around.  You would think that this should be the easiest thing in the world for a pastor to consider since pastors have been instructed on how the words they say and preach speak of eternal things and of a life to come and the ever-living Christ.  But there are men in ministry who apparently didn't get the memo about how by your words you will be acquitted and by your words condemned or didn't read that part that carefully. 

Matthew 12:33-37 (NIV)
“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

So maybe thanks to the internet some of that age to come stuff has shown up a bit early.  But wouldn't a Christian pastor, before ever embarking on a life of ministry, have some awareness of the gravity of this warning before taking up the pen name William Wallace II to begin with?

As Wenatchee The Hatchet has been pointing out over the last few months the reason republishing the sum of Mark Driscoll's writings as William Wallace II is because informing the public about what Driscoll actually wrote is a journalistic service to the public.  What is more, doing so permits people to read what Mark Driscoll actually wrote and assess for themselves how persuasive his enumerated public apologies might seem.  But there is a more important reason to publish what Mark Driscoll wrote in 2000 and to compare it to things Driscoll has said and done in the 2011 to 2013 period.

It gives us an opportunity to see whether the substance of Mark Driscoll's ideas about men, women, gender, sex and marriage have actually matured, grown or changed.  The substance of Mark Driscoll's ideas remained steady between 2000 and 2012.  Driscoll has expressed regret about his "tone" plenty but has not repudiated the substance of his views and even for conservative evangelicals the substance of a number of things he has taught can be considered problematic.  He's confessed that what he did as William Wallace II was wrong but critics have objected not just to the tone in which he's said his more famous ideas but also the substance.  It won't cut it any longer now that Acts 29 has shown him the door and evangelicals like Heath Lambert have critiqued Real Marriage to claim that Driscoll critics are uniformly secular/left. 

The reason merely quoting Mark Driscoll accurately and in context in 2000 could create a stir in 2014 is because the substance of Mark Driscoll's views on sex, genders and marriage haven't changed.  When a person expresses regret, has a change of heart, and proceeds to live and speak a life in which they walk a new path we get, you know, the apostle Paul writing epistles to churches.  Darth Vader revealed his change of heart by throwing the Emperor over a precipice.  John the Baptist said something about bearing fruits as evidence of repentance.  If Driscoll had actually borne the fruit of repentance on any of these issues about what he said as William Wallace II compared to the Justin Brierley interview then we'd have a more convincing case for "Mark repented" or "Mark apologized".  Mark Driscoll told Brierley that maybe he went too far but everyone else didn't go far enough, which sounds curiously self-rationalizing to Wenatchee The Hatchet.

Let's spell this out again, if you've repented of what you said in the past and it's clear to everyone then reviving what was said in the past shouldn't even necessitate a renewal of an apology.  If Driscoll had made a point of leaving everything of William Wallace II up AND ALSO issued a more specific apology for what he said republishing the writings of Driscoll under the pen name wouldn't have created any stir. 

But republishing the writings of Mark Driscoll as William Wallace II wasn't just about the words themselves but about what they signaled.  They gave people an opportunity to retroactively consider doubts about Mark Driscoll's basic fitness and competence for Christian ministry. 

As for the popular posts including work by people who never attended Mars Hill, well, yes, that's pretty unfortunate.  But talking about social media should not be limited to just those posts or those blogs.  Wenatchee The Hatchet was at Mars Hill for about a decade as an attender and a member.  Wenatchee was recruited to a number of ministries and helped start a couple but without any particular interest in running those ministries.  Wenatchee was recruited to field theological questions on behalf of Mars Hill elders so it couldn't be said that Wenatchee The Hatchet wasn't on the same page as the Mars Hill pastors if the pastors recruited him to field questions on their behalf.  Wenatchee The Hatchet is still a moderately conservative evangelical with a Calvinistic soteriology and an interest in ecumenical discussions.  It would be possible to dismiss a lot of blogs and bloggers as those who have never been part of Mars Hill but that can't be said about Wenatchee The Hatchet. 

And it can't be said about Wendy Alsup.  It can't be said about a number of blogs and websites.  As Jared Wilson's open letter to Driscoll more or less showed

the problem in the last year is that Mark Driscoll's speech and conduct has not just offended secularists or progressives but also his own former base. 

So while there may not be any privacy as we used to define it on the internet let's remember that you can't use broadcast and social media without having an understanding that what you say for the record stays out there.  This is not just a problem facing some recently resigned megachurch pastors.  Take the celebrity nude selfie hack news , though in the case of nude selfie photographs on a networked mobile device that connects to a cloud the problem there is not the same as a Mark Driscoll writing as William Wallace II.  While Christians in the spring of 2014 might have read about Result Source and while some concluded that sales rigging is normal in the secular world and that the plagiarism was no big deal we're in a cultural moment that's a bit larger where there is such a thing as revenge porn.

Mark Driscoll's controversies about what he probably should never have put up on the net to begin with may differ from a celebrity who took nude selfies on a networked device chiefly on the matter of a Christian pastor with a communications degree and a wife with professional training in public relations seem like someone who ought to have known better fourteen years ago.  Only so much could have been done about a blunt force hack on a cloud.   There's no particular reason to feel sorry for Mark Driscoll having ranted as William Wallace II.  Compared to Mark Driscoll standing before God to explain why William Wallace II seemed like a great idea when he was doing it a stew on the internet is nothing.  Or as Mark Driscoll once tweeted, "You deserve Hell. Everything else is a gift."  Okay then ... Mark Driscoll has a chance to take his own bromides to heart.  He really deserves Hell and everything else is a gift, right?

Finally, in light of Driscoll's unanticipated quitter moment of throwing in the towel .... Vanderbloemen writes the third lesson.

3. Every pastor needs to realize that he or she is an interim pastor.

It remains to be seen whether Mark Driscoll's resignation changes anything apart from the corporation known as Mars Hill Church. A lifelong ministry at one church is not a more fragile prospect than ever if you go into it with an understanding of the significance of what a pastoral ministry is.  And for that matter in the internet age the use of the internet is not necessarily some freak-out inspiring thing if you keep in mind a simple axiom, don't publish things on the internet to begin with unless you'd be willing to stand by what you said as what you meant at the time while expecting it to stay up there indefinitely. 

Avoid libel and slander, avoid saying things you think you might regret.  Don't react out of anger.  Be patient.  Be thoughtful.  Resist the temptation to type up the witty retort you think would make you look smart and your conversant/opponent look stupid.  Think like a pastor.  Or, no, wait, just think like a Christian or a reasonable human being if you don't subscribe to Christianity or other religious beliefs.  And if you change your mind and regret what you said say so, say you're sorry and show how and why you've changed.  This is conceptually not very difficult.  These were instructions for how best to love one's neighbor preserved in the Bible and other literary and religious works for millennia before anyone got the idea of inventing something called the internet. 

Perhaps Wenatchee The Hatchet could have a better attitude about Vanderbloemen's op-ed piece but in the end it reads like a trio of Captain Obvious bromides with additional flourishes that suggest a lack of familiarity with the history of Mars Hill and of its culture use of social media.

The reason Mark Driscoll's resignation won't change anything is because the dynamics that let him become a pastor to begin with and stay a pastor for as long as he did haven't changed.  Most of the key controversies surrounding Driscoll in the last year from Result Source Inc to the plagiarism to Mars Hill Global are too unique to Mars Hill on the one hand and too harsh a peek into problems that may plague the Christian broadcast/media empires on the other to get any serious attention.  The only way Mark Driscoll's resignation "might" change anything is if concern about the financial transparency and ethics of Mars Hill reached such a pitch there were some kind of government probe into fiscal ethics. 

Meanwhile, all the publishers and editors and promoters who have profited from making Mark Driscoll into a star and/or being in the industries that made him a star may just get to opine on Mark Driscoll's resignation as though it changes anything while they get to keep their jobs. 

That's not likely to happen but by now atheists could propose that the ministry of Mark Driscoll and the activity of Mars Hill Church could raise some questions as to why churches have tax exempt status in light of everything that seems to be burbling up to the surface in the last two years. 

the problem of markulinity as air war without ground war and an obscure World War 1 chaplain

Now that Driscoll has stepped down and it remains to be seen where he goes and what he chooses to do it is worth revisiting Driscoll's observations about the need for a truly manly evangelical Christianity.  This is nothing particularly new or special but Driscoll became famous for finding various ways to articulate the idea that young men were not growing up either because they were stewed in a culture that did not encourage real manliness or because the young men just liked being boys who could shave.  When the lengthy rants about the evils of culture producing boy-children seemed overdone Driscoll shifted emphasis to blaming the young men.  But whether the emphasis was on the "pussified nation" by way of William Wallace II in 2000 or a concern about "laddism" in 2012 Mark Driscoll's core concerns about men, masculinity and the evangelical Christian did not substantially change.  He has not really changed the substance of his message over time.

But what has changed in the intervening 12 to 14 years is from where he presents that message and the trouble with the type of masculinity that Mark Driscoll presents is that even if we assume for the sake of discussion that kind of masculinity is good and healthy Mark Driscoll has become completely what he used to call "air war".  For a thumbnail sketch of air war and ground war.

or ...
page 3 of 207
The air war is the Sunday pulpit and the preaching series that is tied to the pulpit. At Mars Hill, we generally lead our ministry with the air war of the pulpit. The ground war works in conjunction with the air war so that such things as community groups, redemption groups, training classes, biblical counseling etc. coordinates with the preached Word so as to be effective and unified as possible. Since most of the Community Groups are sermon-based it is imperative that the CG brand and the P&T branch collaborate on every series. This collaboration includes joint branded content online and Pastor Mark pushing CG discussion points and family devotional points each week in the sermon.

While it's basically true that coordinating aerial and terrestrial campaigns will ensure success the Driscollian approach has it all back-asswards.  Air support is for the soldiers fighting the war on the ground.  The footsoldiers don't have the job of making the air war look effective.  The soldiers in the trenches are going for the objectives and the air war ...

You know, since we're at the centennial of the start of World War I anyway now might be a good time to revisit that war.  Aerial combat wasn't even how the "air war" started.  Airplanes assisted in photographing and mapping the terrain so that the ground war could be fought.  It took a while before any pilots in scout planes got the idea of shooting at each other.  It also took a while for guns to be integrated into airplanes by way of interrupter gears and the like for aerial combat to emerge.  And it took a lot of dead people and an observant German for Oswald Boelcke's axioms about aerial combat to emerge. 

We've had just barely under a century to learn that by themselves strategic bombing and tactical bombing don't accomplish anything.  Bombing the daylights out of the enemy doesn't get much done.  Soldiers have to go on the land and do some fighting.  And if we're pressing the military action metaphor where's the naval side?  But I digress.  What have we learned after a century of airborne warfare?  You still only win wars at the ground level in the long run.  Feet have to hit the dirt.  In ecclesial terms Driscoll would be the bishop and the campus pastors would be seargants (maybe) and the regular members would be the foot soldiers.  So there we go.

Now the ethos and metaphor of the soldier becomes even more critical when we have a figure like Driscoll espousing a particular kind of manliness.  It really matters when you say men pay their own way if you are really paying your own way or have convinced others to pay at least some of that expense for youHere's another example. It matters if when you tell men not to take shortcuts if it turns out you've taken shortcuts or allowed shortcuts to be made for you.  The kind of manliness Mark Driscoll seems to want is the kind of manliness that doesn't come across in the air war nearly as clearly as it would in the ground war.  For that matter, assuming all positive possible definitions for Mark Driscoll's ideals about a manly evangelical Christian life and example, we've passed the century point for a chaplain in World War I who was all for a "clean manly" Christian witness and ministry a century ago.

The Cross and the Trenches: Religious Faith and Doubt among British and American Great War Soldiers
Richard Schweitzer
Copyright (c) 2003 by Richard Schweitzer
Praeger Publishers
ISBN: 0-313-31838-7
ISSN: 0883-6884
pages 106-111
Summarized as follows:

Chaplain M. S. Evers advocated a "clean manly"and evangelical Christian faith as a chaplain (first received into chaplaincy in September 1914).  Evers subscribed to the idea that evangelistic activity should not come from any sense of moral superiority but of sharing hope, and that a genuine friendship and position of service was necessary in serving as a chaplain. 

Evers also bucked tradition for chaplains in Britain during World War I by sleeping in the barracks with the medical officer.  Evers considered it bad form to not be in the place where the fighting soldiers were and considered the custom of unit chaplains living away from the soldiers to be nonsense. To be a chaplain to men in the trenches you had to actually go be there.  For repeatedly aiding and comforting wounded soldiers in the trenches Evers was given the Military Cross with Bar.

Which is to say that the kind of masculinity Mark Driscoll has aspired to was a concern a century ago.  But whereas Driscoll has by turns and years transformed into a functional archbishop who lives in Snohomish rather than King County and preaches via week-delay video rebroadcast sermons Evers rejected the custom of his time that held that a chaplain live away from the soldiers he served.  Evers stayed where the soldiers were and went out to help them where they were.  Not too surprisingly the soldiers respected him and actually attended his chapel services. 

Now it's understandable no one but maybe military historians would care about Chaplain M. S. Evers but Wenatchee is friends with and related to fans of military history and has some family who have served.  And we're on the centennial, after all.  So it seemed useful to consider that a century ago there was a Christian man who advocated a clean and manly form of evangelical Christian faith and he was willing to go meet the soldiers where they were.  It might be useful to remind readers who aren't into this kind of history that that the vintage of "air war" and "ground war" is remarkably new.  There are military jokes and axioms such as the problem of teams always making the mistake of fighting the last war rather than the one we're facing now.  To apply this set of metaphors to Mark Driscoll the tragedy of Mark Driscoll's ministry with respect to martial metaphors is that he is all air war and no ground war.  He became part of a God box in some place at a remove from the regular tithing members of Mars Hill and that God Box (the BoAA, for short) is probably now deliberating on issues that may be as serious as whether to formally dissolve the corporation.  Who doesn't want men to behave in responsible and socially acceptable and constructive ways?  But the distinction between a health masculinity and what I've come to call markulinity has become too acute for these two definitions of manhood to easily overlap.  If you're only air war all the time you paradoxically become the kinds of middle aged pundits about generational decline that Mark Driscoll ripped on in Confessions of a Reformission Rev.

It might be another reason that Mark Driscoll needs to give up the "air war" for a few years and live in the "trenches" of church life.  No one knows what's going to come along, though, so we'll just have to wait and see what happens.  Meanwhile, we had ourselves a little history review on some elements of military history.

A possible future for Mark Driscoll, just being a member of Mars Hill and not being a pastor for at least five years

Thank you for being a wonderful church family.

Today, we are blessed with lead pastors who love Jesus and the people He gave His life for. These men faithfully serve the Mars Hill family.

While I’m still young, I suspect when I’m old I’ll be known for many things—some good, and some not so good. But I hope that the longer God leaves me on this earth, the more I’ll be known for one thing—that I loved Jesus and His Church, the Church He promised the gates of Hell would not prevail against. I may be an author, a speaker, and a thought-provoker; but in the deepest recesses of my heart, I’m a local church pastor, and that’s what I want to give the rest of my life for.

Nearly two months later Mark Driscoll has resigned from being a pastor at Mars Hill Church. 

Mark Driscoll may believe that resigning is what is best for Mars Hill and it may be, but the problem is that the problems at Mars Hill are more than just Mark Driscoll.  We're looking at an entire corporate culture that needs reform and may simply die.  But it doesn't have to.  Here's a thought experiment, a way for Mark Driscoll to stay out of ministry for a while, get his bearings, and consider a new path.  Stay at Mars Hill ... 

but just as a member. 

Driscoll has said for years that he was never a member of a church before starting Mars Hill Church now might.  If Driscoll knows he may have made an idol of success maybe he should spend some time truly being a nobody within Mars Hill, not just a Nobody Trying to Tell Everybody About Somebody who couldn't even be bothered to credit Denver Moore with the catchphrase. 

It could be amazing, right?  Driscoll could get a clearer sense of what the church he has fashioned is like for the rank and file, for the tithing peon.  Don't go to be a preacher or a teacher or a pastor anywhere else. Maybe get some biblical counseling from one of the biblical living pastors.  Maybe join a Redemption Group.  Take the time to be on the receiving end of what the bottom-dwellers get to be part of. 

If Driscoll doesn't try to transition into leading anything in any fashion for several years and just stays at Mars Hill as a member he can show that he's willing to submit to spiritual authority, and how. 

Spend two or three years (at least) maybe more like five years (since in his reverse-engineering your life phase he was into five year plans like a member of the Politburo!).  Retire altogether from public ministry.  See a therapist, er, biblical counselor.  Don't leave Mars Hill, which could go bankrupt if it's still supposed to pay out severance packages to both Driscoll and Turner. 

Driscoll now has a chance to be a member of a church he's no longer a pastor of.  He'll get a chance to really trust in the Lord and see if Mars Hill survives without him as the legal president.  If Mark Driscoll truly loves Mars Hill as it is and not just as the vision of what it's supposed to be in his head then the surest way to prove his love of Mars Hill would be to stay resigned from ministry and be a regular tithing guy who is just part of a local church. 

John the Baptist said (John 3:30NIV) "He must become greater; I must become less." Driscoll stepping away from ministry for at least five years (if not forever) would be a powerful, sacrificial way of living out this axiom.  It would be powerful because Driscoll would disappear and leave us all an opportunity to see if this thing called Mars Hill Church has really been founded on the rock that is Jesus Christ or on the persona of Mark Driscoll. 

Perhaps we can close with an old tweet from none other than ...
Healthy transitions in relays & leadership come down to the handoff. Train up your successor.
Don't chuck the baton & storm off the track.
1:20 PM - 17 Jun 13
So ... who has Driscoll trained to take his place?

Chris Rosebrough discusses Driscoll resignation at Issues Etc and at Fighting for the Faith

Rosebrough discusses Mark Driscoll's resignation at Issues Etc.

The second half of the discussion gets into the uniqueness of Driscoll's public persona.  The term "bad boy" would be apt, and in more secular discussions of sociology and psychology Mark Driscoll would fit the profile of the "badass".  Appealing to cultural norms of masculinity was something that, say, Luther did.  Driscoll's badass posture would not be a rejection of the Bible as such ... Driscoll's posture of the bad boy would be understood by Driscoll himself as taking a stand for a traditional masculine manly type of manhood.  Remember how much Driscoll fretted about boys who can shave? 

Rosebrough's proposal that Mars Hill cannot financially withstand this resignation and that maybe three churches could weather the storm.  This would seem likely given the financial dynamics of the churches as a whole. 

That Mars Hill was a denomination in all but name was a point Wenatchee The Hatchet made about eight years ago. 

and at Fighting for the Faith

Here Rosebrough discusses at some length the problem of real estate and operational debt.  As longtime readers will know Wenatchee The Hatchet privately expressed reservations about the fiscal solvency of Mars Hill's grow-forever approach. 

Wenatchee has a long history of pointing out that constant growth without donor consolidation was going to be a fiscal disaster.  There's also the matter of quoting something from Jamie Munson, years ago, about 4 reasons to expand the church (even when you shouldn't).  So Rosebrough proposing that the seeker-sensitive church model DEPENDS ON LEVERAGING DEBT is not a big surprise to Wenatchee.

Rosebrough correctly notes that Driscoll has not been accused of "immorality" in terms of sexual impropriety with someone who is not Mark Driscoll's wife.  As for the "pornographic visions" stuff, let's revisit that some other time.  Too much has been said about the trees and not the forest.  Some discussion of the spiritual warfare series from 2008 as a rhetorical/political gambit might be in order ... later.

Friday, October 17, 2014

If Turner and Driscoll get severance pay what happened to Turner's "if you resign, do not request or expect to receive severance pay"?

I reported yesterday that the terms of Mark Driscoll’s arrangement with the church upon termination that I have seen involve the provision of base salary and benefits for a year.

Read more:
So Driscoll might get a severance package and there are as yet unsubstantiated reports that Sutton Turner is set to get a severance package.  In light of Sutton Turner's public and astonishingly still up "How to Leave Well" it should be an open question on the part of everyone at Mars Hill why either Mark Driscoll or Sutton Turner should be getting any kind of severance pay if the publicly stated policy to everyone below their pay grade appeared to be "If you resign, do not request or expect to receive severance pay (severance is for layoff situations). "

In sum, this is one of many ways in which the resignations of both Turner as well as Driscoll in the last two months may have put Mars Hill in a miserable no-win scenario.  Driscoll was the brand and now he's gone.  Turner and Driscoll getting any severance package at all in light of everything that has transpired will establish virtually no doubt that the executive leaders can and do measure themselves by a different set of rules than they have had for everyone beneath them.  This could come across as a particularly miserable indignity because of the financial burden it would place upon Mars Hill and because by now it would be such an ostentatious example of double standards and hypocrisy.  Or so it would seem to Wenatchee The Hatchet. 

In any case, to read "How to Leave Well" in all its glory follow the link or read the materials below.

Years ago, after a season of dedicated service, I sensed the beginning of the end of my employment. If I had been working in the business world, my game plan would have been quite simple: Step one, turn in my letter of resignation. Step two, leave.
Ministry, however, is not that simple. At the time, I was the executive pastor of a large and growing church in Texas, serving as second-in-charge to the lead pastor. I could not quit without causing serious problems and distractions for my church and my pastor. My dilemma: how could I leave well?
I’ve seen many church workers resign over the years. Frankly, most do not leave well. It’s not a sin to leave vocational ministry—Jesus does call people away, and I’ve experienced it myself. But it is a sin to leave poorly. How does one transition from staff or leadership without debilitating the congregation and creating ugly discord among church family?

1. Seek confirmation

When I sensed my call in Texas begin to wane, I dedicated three weeks to fasting and prayer in order to listen to the Holy Spirit. Seek his wisdom, but don’t justify a unilateral decision with overly spiritual language about what the Lord told you. Ask for confirmation from trusted friends, pastors, and your spouse as well.

2. Check your motives

Why do you want to quit? Is the work too hard? Is the pay too low? Are the hours too long? Lack of recognition? Hate to break it to you, but that’s ministry. If you’re abandoning a ministry calling for more money, more status, or more free time, chances are you’ve either succumbed to selfishness or failed to count the cost in the first place.

3. Give plenty of notice

Two weeks may be sufficient in the secular realm, but not in a church. Most churches operate with minimal staff and do not have well-trained personnel prepared to step into a new role at a moment’s notice. Ninety days is a reasonable starting place for church staff transitions (sometimes more, sometimes less).

4. Submit to spiritual authority

When I told my lead pastor that I was ready to move on, he would not accept my resignation. So I stayed. I trusted the spiritual authorities God had placed in my life. I asked Jesus to speak to the pastor about my transition, but I planned to stay and work at the church until Jesus made it clear—both to me and to my lead pastor—that it was time to go.

5. Wait on the Lord

Six months after asking me to stay, my lead pastor met with me again. Jesus had led him to John 5:35, which describes John the Baptizer’s ministry lasting “for a time” (NIV). Likewise, the lead pastor believed my work at the church had been for a season, which was now coming to an end. We were able to work together to execute a smooth, healthy transition. The timing was further confirmed when God provided a great new job, which was not around when I had tried to resign six months prematurely. If you believe that Jesus called you to your position, then he will call you away from it when the time is right.

6. Be prepared to sacrifice

If you resign, do not request or expect to receive severance pay (severance is for layoff situations). Sudden staff loss is painful and expensive for your church. The recruitment process is a costly, time-consuming distraction, and severance essentially doubles that cost. If you’re the one who wants to leave, don’t ask your church to invest in a new hire and keep paying you a salary after you’ve gone.

7. Search for your replacement before you search for a new job

Be honest with your lead pastor/supervisor. Don’t job hunt behind their back. Make your priority finding a replacement, not finding a new job. If you really trust Jesus, allow him to open up the next door in your career in his time. Your first priority is his church.

8. Train your successor

As the saying goes, “Leave it better than you found it.” You know the job you are leaving better than anyone, so help recruit, hire, and train someone better than you for the new season your church is facing. Since the transition process takes time, you may have to sacrifice an immediate new job opportunity for the good of the church. If you don’t help your successor, however, you are not leaving the church better than you found it.

9. Defer on the announcement

Even if you mean well, don’t broadcast any announcement (including on Facebook) until you discuss with your lead pastor or executive pastor about how they would like to handle the transition message. Also, leaving a church is not like leaving any other job; the church is the bride of Jesus. If you have nothing good to say about her, then don’t say anything on your way out.

10. Don’t expect an honor parade

Many church staff begin the leaving process with the best intentions only to take a hard turn onto the bitter route. Often, this is the result of unrealistic expectations about the honor they will receive upon their departure. Your lead pastor may honor you publicly. He may not. From his perspective, the future and what’s next for the church are more important than you and your past achievements. Besides, we serve Jesus and his church. Any honor due goes to Jesus—not to us. Whether or not the congregation even knows you’re gone, Jesus sees your service, and that’s why you serve.

11. Stick to the message

Resist the temptation to justify your leaving; it rarely goes well, and almost always gets negative: I disagree with the new leadership structure; we’re too focused on numbers; I don’t like my boss; I’m not getting developed; I don’t have the same influence that I used to; I can preach or lead better than the lead pastor. If you sense Jesus is calling you out of your current role and on to something new, then that’s your reason for leaving—even if there are other valid factors at play. Any other reason that comes out of your mouth may indicate that you’re seeking human approval—a word of consolation, solidarity, or affirmation—at the expense of the church’s reputation.

12. Don’t poach

Leaving well doesn’t end when you start your next job. I’ve had many employees leave church staff, only to start recruiting former colleagues for their new employer. If you have job opportunities at your new church or job, call the lead pastor or executive pastor at your previous church and ask permission to speak with the candidate. If the answer is no, respect their spiritual authority and drop the subject.

13. Church trumps career

Since my first calling as an executive pastor ended, God has called me back to the role, only this time at Mars Hill Church. As part of my job, I interview many prospective employees, and the first question I ask a candidate is, “Does your lead pastor know we are talking today?” If the answer is “no,” then I can safely assume they’d treat me the same way as they are treating their current church employer. Equally discouraging is when a candidate assures me they’ll give their church two weeks notice. Such a person is just looking for the next job opportunity. They’re a hireling, not someone who actually cares about the church.

How you leave ministry reveals the state of your heart for Jesus and his church. The goal in transition is what’s best for the local church, not your career. Thankfully, Jesus can redeem bad transitions and use them to bring about much good. But our desire should be to finish well, by God’s grace. 

in light of Turner and Driscoll resignations, let's revisit some of their words in the past about people who quit and people who fear men

In light of Sutton Turner's resignation it seemed appropriate to revisit Aaron Armstrong's review of Turner's book Invest.

A weak theology of work and ministry

A second concern is the theology of work and ministry described in the book, particularly as Turner differentiates between a “job” and “ministry.” Consider his distinctions:
  • If you want praise and recognition for what you do, it’s a job. If no one else besides Jesus needs to commend your work, it’s ministry.
  • If you do the job as long as it does not cut into other things (such as hobbies, family activities, etc.), it’s a job. If you are willing to make sacrifices in your personal schedule, it’s ministry.
  • If you compare your lot with others who have more free time, more money, and more possessions, it’s a job. If you pray for others rather than compete with them, it’s ministry.
  • If it bothers you when the phone rings on evenings and weekends, it’s a job. If you see random calls at odd hours as opportunities to serve with joy, it’s ministry.
  • If you want to quit because the work is too hard, the pressure is too great, or your performance is criticized, it’s a job. If you stick it out—until Jesus clearly tells you that it’s time to move on—it’s ministry.
  • If you use the church as a stepping-stone, a payday, or a gold star on your résumé, it’s a job. If you’re working for the church because you love Jesus and you want more people to meet him, get saved, and be transformed, then it’s ministry.
There’s definitely some truth to these examples. Turner is correct that both the “work to live” and “live to work” mindsets, or what another set of authors describe as idleness and idolatry in work, are unhealthy. The problem, of course, is the distinction between “job” and “ministry” is actually a false one. Vocational ministry roles are jobs, and we’re kidding ourselves if we think differently.  Non-ministry jobs intrude on our personal lives all the time. So do ministry ones.

It’s a silly distinction, one which elevates a kind of work as being more important than others. This is ironic since Turner is trying to advocate for the importance of these non-traditional type ministry roles. You also need to be very careful as this is the kind of thinking that’s lead so many men to sacrifice their families on the altar of ministry. They bought into the lie that if you take care of the ministry, God will take care of your family—a lie that destroyed both their ministries and their families.

So in light of what Turner wrote in Invest would Sutton Turner's resignation from Mars Hill prove that it was just a job after all?  Would it suggest that rather than having a pastoral heart Sutton Turner ended up displaying the heart of a hired hand?  And in light of Mark Driscoll's resignation in spite of statements that he was not found unfit for ministry would not Driscoll's own resignation invite a question about whether it was just a "job" even for Mark Driscoll after all? 

Did not Mark Driscoll himself in his ten reflections on Elephant Room 2 remark that "fear of man is deadly"?  If fear of man will prove to be a snare then has Mark Driscoll succumbed to fear of man?  We don't know but the sum of Driscoll's public statements about the wrongness of fearing men makes his recent resignation seem muted by his long and public history of calling on men to not be cowardly.  To be sure he was able to produce a litany of incidents in which he feared not for himself but for his family. One of those concerns was what his kids might discover being said about him.
Add to this the safety issues posed by technology. I cannot fathom allowing my two teenagers to be on social media for fear of the venom they would receive. When my kids have to report on current events at school, they’ve learned to ask before they click on to news sites, since I never know who is saying what about me where

It could be a very awkward day in the Driscoll household if one of the Driscoll kids read anything by William Wallace II or even just Real Marriage.  But for now they would no doubt be best off not having to worry about these things.  And Driscoll, back in October 2013 seemed to assure us all that in spite of all the trials he was going to keep on being a pastor.

... When people learn that my concern for family safety is the most difficult part of my ministry, I usually get the follow up question: Why don’t you just quit and go do something else or go do ministry somewhere else?

Honestly, I’ve pondered that question myself on the darker days. I love my family. I love Jesus—and so does my family. I love our church—and so does my family. And I love our city—and so does my family. On average, we have seen 100 people get baptized every month for about the last five years. We are seeing lives change, and we find great joy in that. That said, I do all I can to care for my family and protect them, without being paranoid, and the truth is if I were not called to this line of work, I would quit.

Yes, sadly this question is all too easy for me to answer, so your prayers are appreciated. I just turned 43. Lord willing, we have decades of ministry left to go, and honestly if I think about it too much I get depressed and anxious. For those ministering in similar contexts, I’m earnestly praying for you and your families as well.

It seemed at the time Mark Driscoll's answer was a rhetorical "yes" to his continuing on in ministry, even after compiling a list of incidents in which he was concerned for the welfare of his family.  Fair enough ... but if fear of men is deadly then should someone trying to follow Mark Driscoll's advice reconsider ministry altogether?  Maybe for a season.

But whether for a season or for good it's strange that Sutton Turner seems to have ultimately viewed his ministry at Mars Hill in a way where, if he were talking to someone else, he'd say they treated it like a job.  It's strange that having affirmed how determined he was to love the city (Seattle?) and keep going for decades more in ministry Mark Driscoll has stepped down.

considering the resignation in light of the August update

A central theme in my personal walk with Jesus in recent times has been to follow the Apostle Paul’s charge to Believers in Romans 12:8: If possible, so far is it depends on you, live peaceably with all men. God is not honored by conflict, strife, disunity, arguing, slander, gossip or anything else not consistent with the fruit of the Spirit, and I am deeply sorry for the times I have not done my part to living peaceably with all men.

Wenatchee The Hatchet would agree Mark Driscoll has not done his part to live peaceably with all men.

  I have submitted to the process prescribed by our church Bylaws as overwhelmingly approved by our entire Eldership for addressing accusations against me. I invite this process, rather than debating accusations and issues in social media or the court of public opinion. A  report on this process will be presented when it has been completed.

Is the process completed?
There is a well-documented list of past actions and decisions I have admitted were wrong, sought forgiveness, and apologized for to those I hurt or offended. I will not review them here, as it is my prayer we can, together as a church, move on as Paul writes in Philippians 3:13—But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind, and straining forward to what lies ahead.   

Justin Dean can publish that well documented list, we hope soon.  As WtH and MH both realize the internet is swift to forget and just saying something was established doesn't mean people will remember it.  In fact the formal resignation might be a great time to review all the well-documented past actions and decisions Mark Driscoll has admitted were wrong, sought forgiveness for, and apologized for to those he hurt or offended for some kind of going away event.  If there could be a going away event for Bill Clem how much more for Mark Driscoll?

  I have submitted to the process prescribed by our church Bylaws as overwhelmingly approved by our entire Eldership for addressing accusations against me. I invite this process, rather than debating accusations and issues in social media or the court of public opinion. A  report on this process will be presented when it has been completed.

Is the process completed?

As a general rule, I will respond to little if any criticism of me in the media, on social media, blogs, open letters, etc. Conducting church business and biblical conflict resolution through media channels is not healthy and is more likely to prove unproductive at best, and destructive and dishonoring to the Lord at worst.

It would also be helpful if Justin Dean weren't responding on behalf of Mars Hill these days.


I have begun meeting with a professional team of mature Christians who provide wise counsel to help further my personal development and maturity before God and men. I have never taken an extended focused break like this in my 18 years as your pastor, and it is not a vacation but rather a time to focus on deep work in my soul in the areas of processing, healing, and growing.

So it would seem, at least to Wenatchee The Hatchet, that perhaps the professional team of mature Christians with wise counsel may have advised Mark Driscoll to resign?  Since the resignation is in (though the Washington Secretary of State doesn't have any updates on who replaces Driscoll and Turner as president and secretary) it would seem to be the simplest explanation of the quoted paragraph.

publicly dismiss bloggers in general, privately contact them in particulars--a history of MH pastors privately contacting bloggers

As things move forward in light of the resignations of both Sutton Turner and Mark Driscoll there may be a little-known but potentially important thing to know about the history of Mars Hill Church.  The thing to know is that there is in at least a handful of cases a documentable gap between the public dismissal of bloggers from the pulpit and (paradoxically) in social media on the one hand, and the private history of contact made by pastors at Mars Hill to bloggers on the other.

Over the years Driscoll has had more than just a few dismissive jokes to make about bloggers.  Mars Hill has also mentioned over and over how they don't try to respond to bloggers and social media.  Sure, they might make some copyright claims about stuff Warren Throckmorton has posted here and there and Justin Dean has apparently seen fit to respond to Warren Throckmorton about posts when contacted, apparently, but Mars Hill hasn't taken any initiative to unilaterally contact bloggers, has it?

Let's go back about seven years now, shall we?

Consider Scott Thomas' interaction with Joshua Ball about a blog documented over at these posts:

And in a December 23, 2007 email Scott Thomas opened unceremoniously with ...
I was informed of the progress of this situation by Pastor AJ. I have read your letter and your
Pastor Mark Driscoll has an official accountability team that examines charges as you alleged
against him. However, your tactics through a public blog (bypassing the biblical method and the
direct teachings of Jesus), prevent our taking them seriously. If you want justice and truth, you
must delete your blog immediately.
So for all the public statements about not paying attention to bloggers from Driscoll over the years it looks like people like Scott Thomas and AJ Hamilton were definitely paying attention to bloggers and blogs, particularly if they had anything to say that seemed unsuitable for the cause of Mars Hill in general and about Mark Driscoll in particular. 

But that was seven years ago, right?  Things have totally changed.  Mark has changed.  The church leadership has changed.  Sure, it has.  Seven years ago they were using emails to contact bloggers and last year they graduated to certified letter.  How would Wenatchee The Hatchet know that a Mars Hill pastor would go to the trouble of sending a certified letter to a blogger to broach the subject of blog posts? 

Wenatchee The Hatchet heard from an old roommate that after a service at Mars Hill he was kind of, er, asked to meet with campus leaders.  A couple of guys (apparently named Adam and Scott) talked with this person (and apparently another person) about the identity of Wenatchee The Hatchet.  See, as you may or may not have discovered the identity of Wenatchee The Hatchet is not entirely a huge mystery (of any kind) in the end.  Playing things quiet and anonymous is an ethos.  Pastor Mark TV had Driscoll all over the place and was called Pastor Mark TV, for crying out loud.  Wenatchee The Hatchet did not start as a watchblog and is not, strictly speaking, really a watchblog.  Wenatchee The Hatchet does not even self-identify particularly as a Driscoll critic.  More like someone with a bit of training attempting to preserve a local slice of church history for further consideration---

anyway, the former housemate indicated to Wenatchee The Hatchet there might be some kind of contact attempt because apparently Mars Hill knows who Wenatchee The Hatchet is. 

Well, yes, although Mars Hill apparently hadn't noticed Wenatchee The Hatchet had access to The City up through about May 2012.  Amid the tumultuous leadership changes of 2011 and the mass layoffs or firings apparently nobody was left to remember who recruited Wenatchee The Hatchet to beta-test The City back in 2007. 

Well ... some time in late 2013 Wenatchee The Hatchet was given something that came in the mail by a housemate.

It looked sorta like that.

There was a letter in it, too.  It's been redacted because Wenatchee The Hatchet prefers not to be too flamboyant and because the sender of the letter, though easily identifiable, doesn't need to get pointless spam or calls.

Precisely why Harris wanted to meet with Wenatchee The Hatchet to discuss a few of the blog posts was never explained.  Since Wenatchee The Hatchet 1) did not leave under church discipline 2) left on wonderful terms with his campus pastor 3) both the campus and the pastor had since stopped being part of MH 4) Wenatchee had spent a good deal of time simply documenting as accurately and in context as possible a history of Mars Hill and 5) there shouldn't have been any mystery within Mars Hill as to Wenatchee's history and association with Mars Hill (since even at that late stage there were a handful of pastors and staff Harris could have contacted who knew WtH's history within MH) it seemed pointless to go meet.

Wenatchee considered it for a time and in one conversation was asked, "Do you feel threatened or intimidated by this?"

"Well, no. If anything it might be the other way around."

As to what might have prompted an unbidden letter.  One can only speculate.  The dating of the letter was December 4, 2013.

Was there anything that given week, give or take a few days, that might have been of any note here at Wenatchee The Hatchet?  Probably not too much but there was this.

Mark Driscoll · 229,266 like this
  • "To steal from one author is plagiarism; to steal from many is research." – Wilson Mizner
That 2012 joke quote was not one to make on social media for the record!

What other posts from that week?  This one about the Trial study guide.

Then there's this one showing that at one point On Mission, LLC had a more directly Driscollian line-up of members.  Driscoll was listed as "manager" twice and the headquarters was Mars Hill corporate headquarters as discussed in the following post:

Of course all that changed later.  Moving along ... there was also this blog post.
Mefferd posts more material presented as evidence of Driscoll plagiarism, a couple of additional details

 "Another example of uncited material has been uncovered in a book written by Pastor Mark Driscoll. In this case, it occurred in the book he and his wife, Grace, wrote in 2012, called Real Marriage” (Published by Thomas Nelson; 2012). This example first was noticed and cited by the blog Wenatchee the Hatchet on Sept. 30, 2013:"
That was around the time Janet Mefferd linked back to Wenatchee The Hatchet about Real Marriage and uncited material.  But while it is conceivable Harris could have drafted a letter about a couple of posts that were then recent it would be difficult to read too much into the terse letter of December 4, 2013.

So those were some of the recent posts that "could" have been in mind, theoretically, when Scott Harris wrote his letter.

It was sent certified letter, of course, but without any kind of return receipt.  This suggests the possibility to Wenatchee The Hatchet (with more than just a few years in non-profit fundraising and handling mailings) that it was more important to verify that the document was sent than that it was received.  Harris might have gone all this time wondering if Wenatchee The Hatchet got the letter.  Well, okay.  If there was any suspense about that at all (there shouldn't have been), Wenatchee got the letter.  It was a surprise and Wenatchee didn't see a compelling reason to reply and so didn't.

Whether he knew it or not Scott Harris writing Wenatchee The Hatchet was simply carrying on a custom behind-the-scenes amongst at least some in Mars Hill leadership of trying to get in touch with bloggers.  Thomas was blunt and direct and used email.  If you're a Mars Hill member and you opt to make Mars Hill your home you could, if you wish, ask Scott Harris or a suitable designated proxy what on earth he was contacting a blogger about. 

No doubt other bloggers have been contacted by Mars Hill.  But the question to consider is how many bloggers were contacted unilaterally?  It's one thing of Mars Hill opts to respond to Matthew Paul Turner (has THAT happened?) or Warren Throckmorton (apparently has).  It's another thing if Mars Hill leadership takes the first step to contact a blogger if the public stance and history Mars Hill presents is that they don't care what some dumb old bloggers may have to say. 

Let the record show that for whatever reason a Mars Hill pastor or two in its history have made a point of contacting bloggers.  As Wenatchee The Hatchet has labored to stick to on record, public, verifiable sources of information it just seemed that the better part of public service as a blogger with a bit of journalistic training was to just keep on working. The people of Mars Hill deserve to have the history of their community shared in a way that isn't constantly filtered through media reactions.  It isn't always pretty but the book of Judges isn't very pretty in depicting Israelite history.  If the history of Mars Hill ends up resembling the Book of Judges in some ways that's not really Wenatchee The Hatchet's fault. 

amidst Mark Driscoll's resignation, things don't stop with Driscoll, Mars Hill has still got things to account for

Mark Driscoll stepping down from leadership should not be construed as a sign that Mars Hill leadership has been in the clear.  If anything it is left to Mars Hill to explain what on earth was going on with Mars Hill Global.

For that matter it was Mars Hill anonymous PR reactions and not Driscoll that tried to blame-shift citation errors in Driscoll books on others when only Mark's name was on a finished piece of work.

Blaming the research help for problems in the Trial study guide was a Mars Hill move, and one the church has yet to account for.  That's not Mark Driscoll's fault, that's the fault of Mars Hill and it's not exactly a small thing when you stop to think about it.

Mark Driscoll may believe that resigning is what is best for Mars Hill and it may be, but the problem is that the problems at Mars Hill are more than just Mark Driscoll.  The Global fund stuff isn't exactly settled yet.  This is leading Wenatchee to an idea ...

Justin Brierley looks back on his 45 minutes with Driscoll--WtH notes that Driscoll's probe on sex counseling of pastors has him hoist with his own petard.
Driscoll has a dominating personality and can sometimes come across as being obsessed with the issue of ‘authority’, both in the Church and in male and female relationships. In the 45 minutes I spent with him he demonstrated, in word and in action, that he likes to be in control. When he subsequently complained on his blog about the way I had conducted the interview he even suggested that my own agenda had been one of power and authority. We published our own view of how the interview went.

and here's the article associated with the interview

Of note is this Driscoll quote "I am one who publicly repents, publicly apologises."

Well, we'll see, won't we?

Then there's this nugget.

Where do you think you have got it wrong in the past?
I think being in a room with 20-something non-Christian guys, I would sometimes work the crowd or take the jokes too far, make a shock-jock statement. I was just playing to the audience, more like a performer in that moment. Those are things I have been convicted of. I would say in the grace of God my teaching and preaching has changed and matured, and I hope to be able to say that when I am 80 years old

Give the customer what he wants, right?

Now ... it is worth pointing out (again) that the Brierley interview happened when Driscoll's star was at its peak.  His book Real Marriage had hit a #1 spot on the NYT bestseller list.  The plagiarism and sales-rigging controversies surrounding the book were at least a year away.  Driscoll was also about to go shake hands with T. D. Jakes and pronounce him a fellow Trinitarian a few weeks later with reflections on precepts and relational approaches that didn't seem much in evidence in the Brierley interview.  Driscoll was at pains to say the interview was combative and adversarial and that it felt like some critic had a chance to exercise authority over him.  This was done before the article was even out.

Brierley remembers the 2012 interview as follows:

I asked him about some of his more controversial statements over the years, and he made further controversial statements about British preachers in response. I also challenged him about his view that women shouldn’t be church leaders (giving my wife as an example of a female minister). It was then that Driscoll turned interviewer himself and started to question me, in a slightly aggressive fashion, about my doctrinal soundness, leading to a debate on the nature of atonement, hell and whether female leaders attract men into churches.

I’m always happy to debate issues of doctrine and host a radio show that does precisely that (although I’m usually the neutral moderator rather than the subject). What stayed with me was the way Driscoll – who I imagine had been expecting more of a ‘softball’ interview – seemed eager to change the power dynamic in the interview. Fed up with being grilled, he took control.

That Brierley endorses penal substitution as one of a number of views of the atoning work of Christ seems uncontroversial.  In fact Mark Driscoll's 2005 Christ on the Cross series (which was later adapted into book form as Death By Love) emphasized that penal substitution is one facet of a multi-faceted jewel that is the atoning work of Christ.  How did Mark Driscoll present Brierley?

He then admitted that he very much struggles to believe in penal substitutionary atonement—that Jesus Christ died in our place a substitute for our sins—and that he does not believe in a literal hell. In short, the reporter is a very liberal Christian, and on these issues I am not.

Driscoll, in his interview with Brierley, really got on Brierley's case about whether Brierley's wife talked with young men in pastoral counseling about sex or masturbation.  A few succinct observations.  First, why exactly would pastors (male or female) necessarily need to be the ones that young men would talk to about sex and masturbation?  Secondly, didn't Driscoll recount in Real Marriage himself how talking with young women who were recent converts and enjoyed sex wanted to know from him, as their pastor, what stuff was okay? 

Yet for Driscoll's question about Brierley's wife, could not have Brierley turned things around?  Did not Mark Driscoll say of his own pastoral counseling on the subject of sex that it amplified his bitterness toward his own wife?  Yep

Real Marriage
Mark and Grace Driscoll
Copyright (c) 2012 by On Mission, LLC
Thomas Nelson
ISBN 978-1-4002-0383-3
ISBN 978-1-4041-8352-0 (IE)
from pages 14-15

Mark: In the second year of the church we had a lot of single people getting married, and so I decided to preach through the Song of Songs on the joys of marital intimacy and sex. the church grew quickly, lots of people got married, many women became pregnant, and my counseling load exploded. I started spending dozens of hours every week dealing with every kind of sexual issue imaginable. It seemed as if every other young woman in our church had been sexually assaulted in some fashion, every guy was ensnared by porn, and every married and premarital couple had a long list of tricky sex questions. Day after day, for what became years, I spent hours meeting with people untangling the usual sexual knots in their lives, reading every book and section of the Bible I could find that related to their needs.

Although I loved our people and my wife, this only added to my bitterness.  I had a church filled with single young women who were asking me how they could stop being sexually ravenous and wait for a Christian husband; then I'd go home to a wife whom I was not sexually enjoying.  [emphasis added] One particularly low moment occurred when a newly saved married couple came in to meet with me. I prayed, and then asked how I could serve them. She took charge of the meeting, explained how she really liked her body and sex, and proceeded to take out a list of questions she had about what was acceptable as a Christian for her to do with her husband. It was a very long and a very detailed list. As I answered each question, she would ask related follow-up questions with more specific details. her husband said very little, but sat next to her, looking awkward and smiling at most of the answers I gave. After they left the counseling appointment to get to work on the list of acceptable activities, I remember sitting with my head in my hands, just moaning and asking God, "Do you really expect me to do this as a new Christian, without a mentor or pastor, in the midst of my marriage, and hold on for the next fifty years/" Peter walking on water seemed an easier task.

So Driscoll decided to preach Song of Songs because young people were getting married and then his counseling load exploded.  And this just added to Mark Driscoll's bitterness?  What did Mark Driscoll have to say in 2008 about bitterness again?
February 5, 2005
Mark Driscoll
Part 2, The Devil

about 34:10
The way bitterness works, as well, is bitter people are prone to blame their bitterness on the person that they perceive offended them. Amy Carmichael. she's a missionary, her little book If, she gives this great analogy she says:

If I have a glass filled with sweet water and I bump it, what comes out? Sweet water. She says if I have a glass of bitter water and I bump it, what comes out?  Bitter water.

All that sin against us, perceived sin against us, or bitter envy and selfish ambition by us reveal is what's already in our heart. The bitterness is IN there, and someone or some thing spilled it. And bitter people will say, "Look what you made me do. You made me sin, you made me gossip, you made me angry, you made me bitter, you made me fight, you made me run into conflict, you made me sin in my anger. Look what you made me do." And the answer is, "I didn't make you do anything. That was what was in your heart." I just bumped you.

about 45:00
What he says is, if you're a Christian and God, through Jesus Christ, is not bitter with you but forgives you then you must use the Gospel in your relationships to forgive other people. You have no reason to be bitter with them. In being bitter with them what you are saying is, "I refuse to use the Gospel for my relationships. I refuse to allow Jesus to do anything." And when you say that you ARE saying, "I am inviting Satan instead."

So if Driscoll on spiritual warfare in 2008 spoke the truth then even in his 2012 for Mark Driscoll to say that pastoral counseling only added to his bitterness might be a remarkable case-in-point.  Mark Driscoll described the pastoral counseling as what added to his bitterness in the 2012 book when in his 2008 spiritual warfare teaching to MH leaders he said that bitter people blame their bitterness on external people or things.  Bitter people have the bitterness that is already in their heart revealed through what happens to them.  Nobody made Mark Driscoll bitter but Mark Driscoll if Mark Driscoll's teaching in 2008 on bitterness as part of the ordinary demonic is true. 

But the kicker about the excerpt from Real Marriage is Driscoll describes himself moaning and asking God if God really expected Mark Driscoll to go fifty years hearing young wives ask what kinds of sex would be okay of a sort Mark Driscoll wasn't enjoying with his own wife.  Could that be construed as Mark Driscoll, in his bitterness, blaming God in some fashion for a bitterness that could only have come from within Mark Driscoll's own heart, at least according to Driscoll's precedent of teaching for bitterness?

Sure seems like it.

Of course Brierley wouldn't have had time to have presented such a detailed case and Driscoll was probably aiming to do a softball promotional tour interview promoting the book, after all.

But Driscoll turning the tables didn't just reveal that Driscoll wanted to regain control of the situation, it also invites an observation that some of the gotcha questions Driscoll asked Brierley in the final minutes of the interview boomerang if you compare what Driscoll was needling Brierley about with respect to his wife to what Mark Driscoll had already published for the record about how pastoral counseling with young people added to his bitterness toward Grace.

So when Mark Driscoll probed Justin Brierley about whether his wife, a pastor, counseled young men about sex, Brierley could have simply pointed out, "Well, you know, Mark, it's not like counseling young women about sex in the earlier years of the church was good for you."

Christianity Today: Was Driscoll's Board a Problem?

An article that discusses pros and cons for external advisory boards for non-denominational megachurches. 

It has been the opinion of Wenatchee The Hatchet since 2005-2006 that Mars Hill had become a denomination in all but name even that far back.  Once it went multisite in the wake of the purchase of the 50th street corporate HQ property it began to become a denomination at a practical level. 

(again) free pdf book Divination, Politics and Ancient Near Eastern Empires

Yes, Wenatchee The Hatchet has plugged for this book a few times.  Doing it again. 

UPDATED: observations about sale of real estate at MH, under unusual circumstances BoAA can sell all or most real estate holdings in not-normal business situation
Wenatchee The Hatchet and others have noted that four (three if you treat Ballard campus and Ballard HQ as a single entity) have gone up for sale in the last month or so.  Not just anyone in governance at Mars Hill is authorized to put these real estate pieces on the market.  In the day to day ordinary business of Mars Hill only the executive elders seem to have the authority to decide what real estate is bought and sold.  As previously noted here at WtH Ballard HQ has been on the market for some time. Ballard campus, MH U-District, and Sammamish are new.  Let's trudge through the bylaws to see what bodies have authorization to decide stuff like this.


Section 6.9

... Any power not reserved for the full council of elders pursuant to this Section 6.9 or the board of advisors and accountability pursuant Section 7.16 shall be reserved for and be decided by the executive elder team.

So the Full Council doesn't look like it has that option.  There are some settings in which the BoAA would be able to sell real estate.


Section 7.16. Powers

In addition to those powers required to be exercised by the board of advisors & accoutnability under the Act, the board of advisors & accountability possesses the following enumerated powers:

(a) Alter, amend, or repeal and adopt new Articles of Incorporation or Bylaws;
(b) Oversee an evaluation of the performance of the executive elder team and approve the annual compensation for each member of the executive elder team;
(c) Appoint, retain, compensate, evaluate and terminate the Church's independent auditors;
(d) Establish the annual budget for the Church;
(e) Alter, amend, or repeal and adopt a new Conflict of Interest Policy for the Church;
(f) Indemnify an officer (or former officer), or make any other indemnification other than as authorized in the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws in accordance with the Act;
(g) Adopt a plan of merger or adopt a plan of consolidation with another corporation;

(h) Authorize the sale, lease, or exchange of all or substantially all of the property and assets of the Church not in the ordinary course of business;

Let Wenatchee The Hachet red letter this next section for people who might miss the significance of this enumerated power ...

In other words, folks, if the BoAA were going to sell a ton of real estate while Mark Driscoll was on leave that wouldn't be a betrayal of Mark Driscoll, it would be the Board of Advisors & Accountability actually seeming to do its job for a change.  And who would have updated the bylaws in this way?  "Probably" Sutton Turner, who said in an interview that Mark Driscoll wasn't into updating bylaws or putting together policies and procedures and that's what Turner did for the church.  So if anyone at Mars Hill has heard that real estate may have been put on the market without any input from Driscoll during his leave of absence, maybe thank Sutton Turner for making that possible.  That is, of course, if Mars Hill made any decisions to sell off Martian real estate without consulting Mark Driscoll.  But under normal circumstances, well, be patient, we'll get to that inevitable observation in time.  Let's get back to the enumerated powers of the BoAA.

(i) Authorize the voluntary dissolution of the Church or revoke proceedings therefor;

(j) Adopt a plan for the distribution of the assets of the Church; or

(k) Make a material tax election under the INternal Revenue Code affecting the Church.

Any power not reserved for the full council of elders pursuant to Section 6.9 or the obard of advisors & accountability pursuant to this Section 7.16 shall be reserved for and be decided by the executive elder team.

Section 7.17
Committees of the Board

(a) The executive elder team is a standing committee of the board of advisors & accountability established pursuant to Article 8 of these Bylaws. The rights, obligations or operating procedures of the executive elder team may not be altered, amended, or repealed except by an amendment to these Bylaws approved by the board of advisors and accountability pursuant to Article 17. The board of advisors & accountability may, by resolution adopted by a majority of the entire board, designate from among its members one or more other committees, each of which shall, except as otherwise prescribed by law, have such authority of the board as may be specified in the resolution of the baord designating such committee, provided that the authority granted to such committees may not conflict with the authority granted to the executive elder team under these Bylaws.  ...

In the normal line of business who sells or buys real estate on behalf of Mars Hill?


Section 8.8. Powers.
The executive elder team shall have and may exercise all powers of the Church and do all such lawful acts as are not by the Act, the Internal Revenue Code, the Articles of Incorporation or these Bylaws directed or required to be exercised or done by the full council of elders or the board of advisors & accountability and in so doing shall have the right and authority to take all actions that the executive elder team deems necessary, useful or appropriate for the management and conduct of both the ecclesiastical and civil law functions of the Church, including exercising the following specific rights and powers:

(a) Conduct the Church's business, carry on its operations, and have and exercise the powers granted by the Act in any state, territory, district or possession of the United States, or in any foreign country that may be necessary or convenient to effect any or all of the purposes for which it is organized

(b) Execute any and all agreements, contracts, documents, certifications and instruments necessary or convenient in connection with the management, maintenance and operation of the business, or in connection with managing the affairs of the Church, including opening and maintaining bank accounts on behalf of the Church.

(c) Contract on behalf of the Church for the employment and services or employees and/or independent contracts, such as lawyers and accountants, and delegate to such persons the duty to manage or supervise any of the assets or operations of the Church.

(d) Acquire by purchase, lease or otherwise any real or personal property.

(e) Finance, improve, construct, own, grant options with respect to, sell, convey, assign, mortgage or lease any real estate or any personal property. [emphasis added]

(f) Borrow money or issue evidences of indebtedness, or secure the same by mortgage, pledge or other lien on any Church assets.

(g) Execute any deed, lease, mortgage, deed of trust, mortgage note, promissory note, bill of sale, contract or other instrument purporting to convey or encumber any or all of the Church assets. [emphasis added]

(h) Prepay in whole or in part, refinance, recast, increase, modify or extend any liabilities affecting the assets of the Church or in connection therewith execute any extensions or renewals of encumbrances on any or all of such assets

(i) Commence or settle any suit or administrative proceeding before any court or governmental agency.

(j) License individuals to perform sacerdotal functions

(k) Appoint lead pastors to local Churches

(l) Appoint elders

If someone wanted to be hugely conspiratorial one could claim that it would be possible for the Board of Advisors & Accountability to decide that real estate needs to be sold for an unusual situation ... but wasn't Mark Driscoll on the Board of Advisors & Accountability as well as the Executive Elder team?  In other words, lest anyone out there imagine that it was even possible for either the executive elders or the BoAA to sell three/four pieces of Martian real estate behind Driscoll's back, the bylaws show that is impossible.  If real estate has been put on the market that has been owned by Mars Hill then according to the by-laws Driscoll would have to know about it and approve of it.

It sure appears to be the case that all the real estate was put on the market BEFORE Mark Driscoll announced resignation in the middle of this week.  So ... the simplest and most logical explanation about real estate going on the market is that Driscoll was part of the decision to off-load the real estate.  Driscoll's welcome to clear things up if he dares to speak (which is probably never going to be the case the way things are going) but until then the most sensible explanation of how so much Martian real estate went on the market is that Mark had to be involved. 

Given how strongly the BoAA stood by Driscoll and Turner at the emergence of the Result Source controversy and how the BoAA decided that Driscoll was innocent of false charges that the didn't really explain ... ever ... it is still a puzzle why the BoAA would say Driscoll didn't say or do anything wrong but accepted the resignation anyway.  Then again, Van Skaik's made a variety of statements about Sutton Turner that seem to fly in the face of things Turner and Driscoll said about Turner.
for that go over here.

Kind of adds some perspective.  Turner resigned some time in September it seems, earlier September.
We, as a board, are very thankful and grateful for Sutton’s gifting, expertise, and commitment in leading and guiding our church operations in the role of executive pastor and executive elder. We fully support his decision and will as a board be assisting the staff leadership teams in the transition of day-to-day responsibilities with Sutton through September 30th. Please join me in praying for the Turners as they seek direction and the next assignment that God has for them.

And Driscoll's resignation was announced, well, mere days ago.

In ordinary business settings the executive elders decide to sell off real estate or buy it.  In unusual circumstances the BoAA can exercise the power to sell real estate.

If Mars Hill the corporation is actually going to die it has to be a decision made by the Board of Advisors & Accountability.  If the word on the street is true then Jon Phelps has potentially sunk so much money into Mars Hill he'd hardly want to throw in the towel, would he?   But only the BoAA seems to have the enumerated power to decide Mars Hill the corporation is dead in the water. 
But there would seem to have been no version of either the BoAA or the EE team prior to Mark Driscoll's resignation that would have been making a decision to sell off the real estate of Mars Hill that did not directly involve Mark Driscoll, would there?   Mars Hill, if any of you feel like you've been sold down the river by leadership the bylaws seem to make it pretty clear that selling real estate out from under your nose is something that would necessarily involve Mark's vote. If Paul Tripp resigned saying the BoAA couldn't even do its job .... what was its job?  Keeping Driscoll accountable?  Under "normal" circumstances Driscoll would be involved in the decision to sell off all the real estate ... but would Driscoll have greenlit selling off four pieces of real estate?  Would Mark Driscoll break his rule about not responding to bloggers or journalists about this particular point?

That seems suspiciously like the BoAA and even the EE could constitute the kind of "God Box" that Mark Driscoll once said was characteristic of nasty mainline liberal denominations who had big dogs who didn't care about the churches in the trenches.

Where and when did Driscoll talk about a "God Box" you may ask?  Well ...

POSTSCRIPT 10-18.2014

Let's think about this a bit more. So Sutton Turner resigned in September and Mark Driscoll resigned this week.  Driscoll was on leave and that meant that both the legal president and the legal secretary, the officers of Mars Hill Church, were both absent during the month of September.  That left just executive elder Dave Bruskas and the rest of the Board of Overseers as the whole of the Board of Advisors and Accountability.  If the BoAA has put real estate on the market they were the only ones left to do that because the president was on leave and the secretary quit.  In a financial crisis the bylaws enumerate the power to sell off real estate to the BoAA, which may simply be what the BoAA did.  This wouldn't be an easy decision but the double whammy of the president being on leave and the secretary quitting would have left the BoAA few viable options for keeping Mars Hill in a "possibly" solvent scenario than dumping a pile of real estate on to the market.  Van Skaik, Osborne, Phelps and Rogers decided Mark hadn't made himself unfit for ministry but Driscoll's leave certainly put Mars Hill in the kind of already-a-crisis scenario that selling real estate wasn't going to be a huge shock.